I missed the first Friday of PPBF last week due to excitedly posting about our youngest writers first book out. Want to read more see here .
I love books that have a very deep and warm message, something that would suit everyone. This is one of those very special ones.
The MATCHBOX DIARY
Illustrated by: Bagram Ibatoulline
Published by: Candlewick Press
Ages: 6 – 9 years
Theme: family history, bonding of generations, childhood memories, a journey, a “dairy”
First lines: “Pick whatever you like the most. Then I’ll tell you its story.”
“There is so many things here.”
“You’ll know when you see it. And then I’ll know something about you. The great-granddaughter I’ve only heard about.”
Synopsis: From the front flap…. The little girl visiting her great-grandfather chooses a cigar box that turns out to hold a brood of matchboxes. Inside each is a memento, an olive pit, a bottle cap, a ticket, lead type. Together they recount her great-grandfather’s journey from Italy and first years in America, a diary-in-objects kept by the boy who yearned to record his life but couldn’t read or write.
Newbery Medalist Paul Fleischman depicts the drama of immigration and the longing for literacy while crafting an ode to preservation and the fascination of boxes. Gorgeously detailed illustrations by renowned artist Bagram Ibatoulline take readers from the Italian countryside to the bustle of America – and forward to the present day, where a new diary keeper gets her start.
Why I like this: This beautifully written and illustrated book captivated me from beginning to end. Not only by the wonderful heart-warming story, but the warm amazing illustrations between the pages. There is so much to love about this book. The connection between a young girl meeting her great-grandfather for the first time, her inquisitiveness, and the tenderness as she learns of a time long past. Special moments in his life kept as tiny objects in matchboxes are gently unveiled as we turn the page and the exquisite illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline depict history cleverly in greys while the present is in warm coloured hues. As you can see the first few lines tell us so much about these two characters, we just have to keep turning the page.
Paul Fleischman won the Newbery Medal for Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices and a Newbery Honor for Graven Images. Among his award winning picture books are Sidewalk Circus. The Matchbox diary was an idea from his love of making matchbox theaters and when he saw artist Gary Hamel’s matchbox diary of a recent trip to Italy he asked if he could use the idea. It took a further fifteen years before the story was written.
Bagram Ibatoulline is an acclaimed illustrator of such books as Thumbelina, Hans Christian Andersen’s The Tinderbox, The Nightingale, among many others. He lives in Pennsylvania.
As I read and reread this story I found myself being swept back in time to the many hours and weeks I used to spend with my Grandmother and Step-grandfather and the lovely stories they would tell me and the games we used to play. A must read, I found this ageless and timeless.
Resources/Findings: Here is a lovely note from Paul and some great ideas for discussion with kids in class… http://www.candlewick.com/book_files/0763646016.btg.1.pdf
Here is Paul’s official website with a lovely video clip of making matchbox theatres….. http://www.paulfleischman.net/ what fun for kids.
For more books with resources please head on over and visit the lovely author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books. Her blog is full of resources links and activities associated with the books reviewed by many authors.
This is a book I would love and I’m sure many young people would love it as wel. Thanks for the great review!l
Oh yes, Darlene, I am sure you would love it. It is such a treasure! Thank you!
Beautiful story! Unfortunately, we tend to brush the elderly aside instead of gaining wisdom from their rambling accounts of their struggles and successes. Thanks for sharing this one. . .
So true Jarm. If we only spend a little more time, what wonderful memories we would open up. Also an appreciation of today! Thank you.
I just picked this one up from the library. The opening is lovely – now I need take a break and read it!
lol… amazing that you have just picked it up. That’s because I have returned it…hehe 😉 You will enjoy it. Thank you!
This sounds adorable and a great book for a grandparent to read to their children. I look forward to reading Joyful Noise too.
Yes it’s a lovely book for grandparents to share with their grandchildren. Sure to encourage more engaging conversations with one another. Thanks, Catherine.
You’ve really intrigued me with this choice. I can’t wait to get to the library on Monday!
lol… hope you have found it by now, (unless you go to the same library as Julie (above)..lol) It’s a joy to read! Thanks Joanne.
Intriguing! So many super picture books for older kids today. Thank you!
Thank you Joanna, glad you approve. It gorgeous to read and look at.
I love the cover, and the whole “diary a la object” idea 🙂
Yep! Give you any ideas, Erik? Thanks for commenting.
The cover is very tromp l’oeil — I thought it was an actual box. I can imagine the illustrations are just fantastic.
Oh they are, Kirsten. Just gorgeous!
Oh, I really like this selection. I love the idea of a child learning about his grandfather’s life through treasures saved in a matchbox. What an inspirational story for kids to hear. May give kids the opportunity to ask their grandparents about what it was like to grow up and learn some family history.
True, Pat! It is certainly a lovely story. Very inspirational. I great idea to start their own diary. Thank you.
What a magical book! We have a cigar box full of things we find in books.And the box belonged to the Mom Person’s grandfather and once held some treasured papers from him. A treasure trove! This looks like an excellent book to share with kids. I’ll be looking for this one for sure! Thanks for sharing!
Wow! How neat to actually have a treasure trove. I am sure you will love this Rhythm!
Oh, this sounds like such a lovely book, Diane! I’d love to read it! I love the idea of a diary kept with items since he couldn’t write. And just imagine the stories they evoked! Thanks so much for sharing this one!
Your very welcome Susanna. It is a gorgeous book. I didn’t want to give it back to the library when it came time to….lol.